Yesterday, Latvia joined the euro area. Today, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves visited the small town of Rūjienā in northern Latvia where he met the neighbouring head of state, Andris Bērziņš, bought local ice cream with euros and confirmed: A common euro also strengthens ties between Estonia and Latvia.
"Compared to many euro area members, the excellent state of Latvia's economy and finances is enviable; Prime Minister Dombrovskis' government has made the correct choices and kept Latvia on the right track," President Ilves said.
According to him, Latvia joins the eurozone at a time when the economies of those countries that use the currency are improving and where the outlook is positive.
"I believe that Latvia's continuing excellence will strengthen the entire euro area because it gains a responsible country that follows the rules that we have jointly agreed upon," claimed the Estonian head of state. "This will certainly also increase economic and tourist ties between Estonia and Latvia, and, of course, cross-border contacts between northern Latvia and southern Estonia, which together make Livonia. I especially hope to see an increase in contacts between Abja and Ruhja, as well as Viljandi and Volmari."
Joining the euro area brings more Europe to Latvia in the broadest economic and political meaning of the term, President Ilves emphasised.
"Those who consider the euro to be an elite project are mistaken, as are those who fear and mistrust our common currency. Joining the euro zone opens up new possibilities for Latvia as a whole and it concerns all Latvians," he said, adding: "Yet, as with many things, it takes time to get used to the euro. In Estonia, support for the euro has risen to 63 per cent just two years after adopting the currency."
President Bērziņš gave the Estonian head of state a Latvian euro starter kit; President Ilves, in return, gave precious metal copies of the first Estonian commemorative euro coins - "Estonia joining" designed by Priit Pärna and Simson von Seakyl's "Estonian future".
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President Ilves: joining the euro area brings more Europe to Latvia